ESPN made another move to bolster its broadband network, ESPN3.com, when it announced June 14 that is has struck an exclusive deal with software giant Microsoft that will deliver over 3,500 live events from ESPN3.com, as well as on-demand clips from ESPN.com, to Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console.
As in other ESPN3.com distribution deals, consumers will need to receive their Internet connection from an affiliated service provider; they also need to subscribe to the Xbox LIVE Gold service. The service will start in November.
Distribution through the Xbox console, one of several "connected devices" in the marketplace that can link to both a broadband connection and a TV, will facilitate the easy viewing of ESPN3.com's streaming content on the living room TV. That content has previously been confined to PCs and laptops. ESPN joins other content providers, such as movie studios, in using the powerful Xbox 360 as an alternative path to the TV.
The 3,500 live, global events available through ESPN3.com include mainstream sports such as college basketball, college football, MLB, NBA, international soccer, tennis including all four Grand Slam tournaments, and golf majors, along with niche sports like rugby and sailing. Fans will also be able to replay sports and events with full DVR control, pull up current scores on-demand while watching the game and switch between events; they can also see what the most popular games are in the Xbox LIVE community in real time.
ESPN content and features available to all Xbox LIVE Gold members include:
Daily Highlights: Access to ESPN.com video clips and daily sports highlights streamed on-demand;
Kinect for Xbox 360 Integration: a new Microsoft technology that allows fans to control the content they watch with just their voice or wave of the hand;
Team Affiliation: Declare favorite teams and see how many other people in the Xbox LIVE community are also fans;
Social Activities: Connect to the Xbox LIVE community with in-game social activities like polls, trivia and prediction questions and more.
ESPN3.com is currently available in more than 50 million households nationwide through dozens of affiliated Internet service providers including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Charter, Windstream, RCN, Insight, Frontier, Cavalier, Mediacom, Conway, and Grande Communications, among others. It is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.